Music for the masses: Queens Philharmonia to perform Friday

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With two of the borough’s most notable and revered music groups celebrating their 50th and 75th anniversaries this year, there has been very little notice of an up-and-coming musical ensemble that has quietly been preparing to take the stage at LeFrak Hall Friday night.

The Queens Philharmonia, under the direction of Korean-born Dong-Hyun Kim, has been struggling with its identity for the last four years. The leadership within the group has shifted a few times since the members first played together in 1999, but with a new name and Kim’s baton the Philharmonia plans to be here to stay.

Working with composer Paul Joseph, a Long Island native whose music has been performed by orchestras more than a dozen times in the past two years, the Queens Philharmonia has put together what promises to be an outstanding show this weekend at Queens College.

The Queens Philharmonia will perform masterpieces by Mozart and Brahms as well as “First Tears of Spring” and “Cry of a Butterfly” — two of Joseph’s original compositions.

Joseph has been called “a composer whose music deserves to be heard” by Queens Symphony Orchestra Maestro Arthur Fagen. The conductor Joseph has worked with for the upcoming show at LeFrak Hall agrees.

“Paul writes music that is easy to listen to, yet says a great deal,” Kim said, noting that orchestras don’t often play pieces written by living composers.

“Paul came backstage after a concert and wanted me to listen to his work,” Kim said. I went to his Web site, and my first impression was that the music is very simple — easy to understand and enjoy. Classical music doesn’t have to be complicated.”

Kim has conducted orchestras in the United States and Korea, both during school and after completing his degree. He has amassed a loyal following of musicians who not only enjoy playing in the acoustic wonder that is LeFrak Hall, but enjoy working under his leadership.

Perhaps, though, Kim may be too humble to agree.

“I don’t know,” he said in a recent interview, turning beet red, smiling, and looking away. “I have been conducting for only four years, but sometimes I think it is more like dancing with a chopstick.

But Joseph was clear about his feelings on Kim’s talents. “When he performs, he has a very clear perception of what he wants to do,” Joseph said. “It is rare to see any conductor do a modern piece without the score, but he recently did Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony by memory.”

The Queens Philharmonia will perform the works of Joseph, Brahms and Mozart at their spring concert Friday at 8 p.m. at LeFrak Hall at Queens College. Admission is free.

Updated 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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